Democratic Primary Debate at The Citadel, sponsored by YouTube and CNN: on Foreign Policy


Barack Obama: Meet with enemy leaders; itís a disgrace that we have not

Q: Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea?

OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this: the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them--which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration--is ridiculous. Ronald Reagan constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when he called them an evil empire. He understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward. And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.

CLINTON: I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I donít want to be used for propaganda purposes. I donít want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Bill Richardson: UN troops in Darfur, & UN-enforced no-fly zone

Q: What action do you commit to, for Darfur? Would you commit American troops?

A: This is what I would do: Itís diplomacy. Itís getting UN peacekeeping troops and not African Union troops. Itís getting China to pressure Sudan. Itís getting the European Union to be part of economic sanctions in Sudan. Itís called leadership. A no-fly zone, I believe, would be an option. But we have to be concerned about humanitarian workers being hurt by planes, being shot.

Q: You say UN troops. Does that mean American troops?

A: UN peacekeeping troops, and that would primarily be Muslim troops. We need a permanent UN peacekeeping force, stationed somewhere. Genocide is continuing there; 200,000 have died; close to 2 million refugees in that region. America needs to respond with diplomatic leadership.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Chris Dodd: Iraq lost US moral leadership to deal with Darfur

Iraq is related to Darfur. Itís because weíre bogged down in Iraq at $10 billion a month, weíve lost our moral leadership in the world. No one listens to us when it comes to foreign policy. That has to change in this country.
Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Hillary Clinton: US support & no-fly zone, but UN troops on ground in Darfur

Q: What about American troops in Darfur?

A: I agree completely that what we need to do is start acting instead of talking. That means accelerating the UN peacekeeping forces along with the African Union. It means moving more quickly on divestment and sanctions on the Sudanese government, including trying to use the diplomacy to get China involved. And, finally, it does mean a no-fly zone. We can do it in a way that doesnít endanger humanitarian relief.

Q: How about American troops on the ground?

A: I think NATO has to be there with the no-fly zone, and I think that only the US can provide the logistical support and the air lift to make a no-fly zone and the actual delivery of humanitarian aid work.

Q: Does that mean no American ground troops?

A: American ground troops I donít think belong in Darfur at this time. I think we need to focus on the UN peacekeeping troops and the African Union troops.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Hillary Clinton: Arabic and Muslim countries take women leaders seriously

Q: The Arab states, Muslim nations, treat their women as 2nd-class citizens. As president, how do you feel that you would even be taken seriously by these states in any kind of negotiations or diplomatic relations?

A: You know, when I was First Lady, I was privileged to represent our country in 82 countries. I have met with many officials in Arabic and Muslim countries. I have met with kings and presidents and prime ministers and sheiks and tribal leaders. And certainly, in the last years during my time in the Senate, I have had many high-level meetings with presidents and prime ministers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan and many other countries. I believe that there isnít much doubt in anyoneís mind that I can be taken seriously. Other countries have had women presidents and women prime ministers. There are several serving now--in Germany, in Chile, in Liberia and elsewhere--and I have noticed that their compatriots on the world stage certainly take them seriously.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Hillary Clinton: Diplomacy yes; propaganda no; when meeting enemy leaders

Q: Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba & N.Korea?

OBAMA: I would. The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them is ridiculous. I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.

CLINTON: I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort but not a high level meeting before you know what the intentions are. I donít want to be used for propaganda purposes. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration. I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, weíre not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro & Hugo Chavez & the president of North Korea, Iran & Syria until we know better what the way forward would be.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Joe Biden: American troops on the ground in Darfur now

Q: In the past, youíve talked about NATO troops in Darfur. What about American troops?

A: Absolutely, positively. Look, Iím so tired of this. I heard the same arguments after I came back from meeting with Milosevic: We canít act; we canít send troops there. Where we can, America must. Why Darfur? Because we can. We should now. Those kids will be dead by the time the diplomacy is over. 2500 American troops can stop the genocide now. I have called for a no-fly zone, but you need troops on the ground.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

John Edwards: Meet with enemy leaders after diplomacy first

Q: Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba & N.Korea?

OBAMA: I would. The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them is ridiculous. I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.

CLINTON: I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I donít want to be used for propaganda purposes. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy.

Q: Sen. Edwards, would you meet with them?

EDWARDS: Yes, and I think actually Sen. Clintonís right though. Before that meeting takes place, we need to do the diplomacy to make sure that that meetingís not going to be used for propaganda purposes, will not be used to just beat down the US in the world community. But I think this is just a piece of a bigger question, which is, what do we actually do to restore Americaís moral leadership in the world?

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Mike Gravel: No US troops in Darfur; Africans donít trust US

Q: What about American troops in Darfur?

A: The problem is because we havenít owned up to our responsibilities to a sense of global governance. And so now, youíve got a situation where the US wants to go in, but the African nations donít want us there. Whatís the message? Theyíre afraid of us. Theyíre flat afraid of us.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

  • The above quotations are from 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at The Citadel, in Charleston, South Carolina, July 23, 2007, sponsored by YouTube and CNN.
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Candidates and political leaders on Foreign Policy:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Pres.:Sen.Barack Obama
V.P.:Sen.Joe Biden
State:Hillary Clinton
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
Treas.:Tim Geithner
DoD:Robert Gates
A.G.:Eric Holder
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DoC:Bill Richardson
Outgoing Bush Administration:
Pres.:George Bush
V.P.:Dick Cheney
A.G.:John Ashcroft(2005)
DEA:Asa Hutchinson(2005)
USDA:Mike Johanns(2007)
EPA:Mike Leavitt
HUD:Mel Martinez(2003)
State:Colin Powell(2005)
State:Condoleezza Rice
HHS:Tommy Thompson(2005)
2008 Presidential contenders:
AIP: Frank McEnulty
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP VP: Gov.Sarah Palin
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Independent: Ralph Nader
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
NAIP: Amb.Alan Keyes
Socialist: Brian Moore
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